Wednesday, May 18, 2011

16th Festivalissimo (Ibero-Latin-American Film), May 18-June 5

Tonight is kickoff for the 16e Festivalissimo, le festival de films ibéro-latino-américains de Montréal, the 16th Festivalissimo Festival for Ibero-Latin-American Film. The opening gala screening will be the Canadian premiere of the Chilean film La Vida de los Peces (The Life of Fish) by Matías Bize.

Festivalissimo will also be paying tribute to Matías Bize’s work by presenting a retrospective of two of his most important films: Sábado, una pelicula en tiempo real (2003) and En la cama (In Bed, 2005).

The festival presents about thirty feature films from 12 different countries of Latin-American, Spanish and Portuguese cultures over the next two-and-a-half weeks. They will also be introducing new events including free dance workshops at the Place Alexis Nihon and closing festivities in the park named Festivalissimo Fiesta Latina: three days of non-stop shows for the whole family at the Cabot Square, adjacent to Atwater metro.

The festival continues until June 5.

The 16th edition of Festivalissimo starts with a bang!

Montreal, May 18, 2011
– Today starts the 16th edition of Ibero-Latin-American Film Festival of Montreal, Festivalissimo, with the Canadian premiere of LA VIDA DE LOS PECES (The Life of Fish), by Chilean filmmaker Matías Bize, presented tonight, on Wednesday, May 18 at 7 pm, at Cinema Impérial, Centre Sandra & Leo Kolber, Salle Lucie & André Chagnon (1430 de Bleury Street, Montreal).

Right after its opening ceremony, the 16th edition of Festivalissimo will be continuing at NFB Cinema (1564 St-Denis) with the presentation of major movie premieres of films that have participated to the most important film festivals in the world, such as Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Berlin, Guadalajara and San Sebastián.

During the first days of its new edition, Festivalissimo will therefore host the Canadian premieres of LA MIRADA INVISIBLE (The Invisible Eye) of Argentinean filmmaker Diego Lerman, presented in 2010 at the Directors Fortnight; of POST MORTEM, by Pablo Larraín, sacred Best Latin American film at the 2011 Guadalajara Film Festival for its daring and terrifying replay Chilean coup d’état of 1973; and of GATOS VIEJOS (Old Cats) by Chilean filmmakers Sebastián Silva and Pedro Peirano, selected at Sundance in 2011. Actress Geraldine Chaplin, celebrated for her participation in the films of Carlos Saura, will delight us with a memorable performance in a new Spanish film, LA ISLA INTERIOR (The Island Inside), by Félix Sabroso and Dunia Ayaso. Amongst the other important premieres during the first days of this 16th edition, it is important to mention LOS LABIOS (The Lips), by Argentinean directors Ivan Fund and Santiago Loza, a film which was awarded for Best Actress at Cannes in 2010, and PEQUEÑAS VOCES (Little Voices), by Colombian directors Jairo Carrillo and Oscar Andrade, an animated docudrama similar to the animated film WALTZ WITH BASHIR, for its striking beauty and power of its content.

The programming team of Festivalissimo has watched this year more than 300 recent productions from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. In total, 27 feature films have been selected, including 5 North American premieres, 12 Canadian premieres and 10 Quebec premieres. Important discoveries are promised to all movie buffs!

The 16
th edition of Festivalissimo is taking place from May 18 to June 5, 2011


Tickets on sale

at NFB Cinema (1564 St-Denis) or


Official Selection
In competition for the prestigious EL SOL prize which is given to the best feature film, the best male actor and best female actor, Festivalissimo's Official Selection is made up of 15 feature films from this year that were selected for their exceptional cinematographic ability, their successful exploration of universal topics and for their innovative rendering of specific socio-historic events from their country.

The competition opens at the Cinéma Impérial with LA VIDA DE LOS PECES (The Life of Fish) by Chilean filmmaker Matías Bize. He provides an in-depth exploration on the topic of reunions, missed moments, the unresolved past and good-byes. This gripping screenplay seizes the audience as they are plunged deeper into the secrets and inner core of the characters with each passing scene. Nominated for the 2011 Oscars, it won the Goya prize for best Latin-American film. LA VIDA DE LOS PECES premieres in Canada within the framework of the opening ceremony of Festivalissimo.
The official selection continues in grand with another Canadian film premiere, GATOS VIEJOS (Old Cats), the most recent movie from filmmakers Sebastián Silva and Pedro Peirano. This duo charmed film enthusiasts the whole world over in 2009 with LA NANA (The Maid). They have struck gold once again by painting us a vibrating portrait of an elderly woman who is forced to hide her bouts of dementia from her cocaine-addicted daughter. Following the theme of film-portraits that depict the sad truth to age, Festivalissimo also presents the opera prima of a young Mexican filmmaker, Marcelino Islas Hernández, MARTHA – the story of a 75-year-old woman who is heartlessly forced to retire from her employment. Following the theme is LAS BUENAS HIERBAS (The Good Herbs), by the accomplished filmmaker María Novaro, an intense yet charming work that deals with the issue of Alzheimer's while exploring the richness of the last Mexican herbalist, including the ancestral knowledge of certain plants that have the power to heal the soul.

More "must-see" movies from our official selection include two vital films that come to us from Colombia: PEQUEÑAS VOCES (Little Voices) and LOS COLORES DE LA MONTAÑA (The Colours of the Mountain). Directed by Jairo Carrillo and Oscar Andrade, PEQUEÑAS VOCES is an animated docu-fiction whose aesthetic allows for the fulfillment of a very powerful message, much like VALSE WITH BACHIR in 2009. This animated work of art from Colombia uses drawings and testimonials from children aged 8 to 11 years old to recount how their childhood was disrupted by the war. No one will remain unmoved when they witness the raw beauty and power of this retelling of events, not unlike the emotional images and characters depicted in LOS COLORES DE LA MONTAÑA, the first feature length film by Carlos César Arbeláez. Set in a picturesque mountain village of Colombia, the scenery will take your breath away. The action revolves around a group of children endeavoring to recover a soccer ball that has fallen into a minefield. For its authenticity and simple poetic truth, LOS COLORES DE LA MONTAÑA was awarded best Latin-American film at the last San Sebastian film festival.

Ibero-Latin-American filmmaking is known for shining a spotlight on the present socio-economic state of affairs, while gaining a reputation for originality and innovation that sets itself apart from past methods of filmmaking. In this respect, audacious movie producing was born in 2010 and 2011, as witnessed by the mastery that these movies display. Accordingly, the movie POST MORTEM by Pablo Larraín, received the prize for best Ibero-Latin-American film at the Guadalajara film festival in 2011. He transports us to 1973 - year of the Chilean coup d’état - and tells the intimate story of a morgue employee confronted with the tragic destiny of his nation the day he attends the autopsy of president Salvador Allende. In the film LUCÍA by Niles Atallah, we are taken thirty years into the future, to the much-awaited funeral of the dictator Pinochet. Named best Latin-American film at this meeting of Latin America cinema in Toulouse, LUCÍA gives us a fascinating synthesis of the dictatorial reign, all while probing the troubled past of a woman in the throes of a serious life crisis. In Argentina, the dictatorship of the 1980's is confronted head on by Diego Lerman in LA MIRADA INVISIBLE (The Invisible Eye), selected by the director's fortnight of 2010. A sober style and tightly bound intrigue make this screenplay a "must-see" for all film enthusiasts.

DORMIR AL SOL (Asleep in the Sun), by Argentinean Alejandro Chomski, is a biting commentary about totalitarian brainwashing, with a Kafkan account of a woman profoundly altered by the psychological treatments she has undergone. In Spain, LA VIDA SUBLIME (The Sublime Life) by Daniel V. Villamediana is a personal and fascinating account about Franco's dictatorship, and regards a generation that was deprived of its dreams. Lastly, returning us to the present, KAREN LLORA EN UN BUS (Karen Cries on a Bus), by Gabriel Rojas Vera, depicts a revealing view about Colombian society of today. Selected by the 2011 edition from Berlinale, this film depicts the non-sensationalistic daily battle of a single woman who must fight for her independence.

As well, through the cinematographic effervescence of the past few years, it has become clear that Ibero-Latin-American cinema is at times a laboratory where the familiar reference marks are abolished, and it defies the thematic concept that too often excludes fiction from the documental account. These bold screenplays are tied to reality yet they leave some room for improvisation, which leads to impressive results. Such is the case for LOS LABIOS (The Lips) by Argentinean filmmaker Santiago Loza and Iván Fund. Quoted by Denis Villeneuve as the best film of 2010, LOS LABIOS was presented at the latest edition of the Cannes festival in the category of "Un Certain regard", where the three main female actors scooped the prize for best female role. This film follows the lives of three welfare workers in the poor villages of Argentina, allowing us to take in sites and human societies that are seldom represented in films. For his part, JEAN GENTIL, Mexican filmmaker's Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cádernas, present a pedestrian “road-movie” that follows the trials and tribulations of a Haitian professor living in the Dominican Republic, who is forced to burn his diplomas when faced with his inability to find work. Portraying a very pertinent issue regarding the invisible working masses of Haitian origin, JEAN GENTIL received honorable mention from both the Venice film festival jury in 2010, as well as the Guadalajara film festival of 2011. Last but not least, the official selection is capped off by a Paraguayan movie, a country that is rarely represented at film festivals. NOVENA (Novena, A Nine-Days Through), the second film by painter Enrique Collar, guides us through the internal conflict of a 55-year-old man who hesitates leaving the time of Novena, nine days of prayers dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This work is a testimony to the omnipresence of the catholic religion and the spiritual values that dictate the daily lives of Latin Americans.

Presided in part by Élie Castiel, Rosanna Maule and Esteban Bruzon, the jury of the 16th edition of Festivalissimo will give EL SOL prizes during the closing ceremony at the NFB, on Saturday June 4, 2011. For this occasion, Festivalissimo presents the Quebec premiere of LA VIDA ÚTIL (A Useful Life) by Federico Vieroj. Officially submitted to the 2011 Oscar's by Uruguay, and big winner of the latest Havana film festival, LA VIDA ÚTIL is a love letter to cinema. The film tackles the series of problems that are caused by a lack of financing, which too often inhibit the capacity of circulating exceptional cinematographic works. An issue of very great relevance in today's world.

Parallel Sections of Non-competitive Films
The 16th edition of Festivalissimo offers a series of parallel sections aiming at illustrating the cinematographic cultural richness and diversity Ibero-Latin-American countries.

Presented in the PANORAMA section, we have a cornucopia of films that represent Latin-American societies of yesterday and today. Presented as opening movie for the latest San Sebastian film festival, the historical western named CHICOGRANDE, by Mexican filmmaker Felipe Cazals, depicts the fundamental values that separated Mexico from the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Via the moving account of a father searching for traces of his daughter, after 20 years of separation, DISTANCIA, by Sergio Ramirez, spotlights the ignored consequences of the Guatemalan civil war. OS INQUILINOS (The Tenants), by Sergio Bianchi, depicts the intrinsic urban violence that is endemic in the popular neighbourhoods of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recipient of numerous prizes, the documentary CIRCO analyzes family ties, filial responsibility and Mexican cultural heritage in the form of a road-movie, where we follow the pilgrimage of a 100-year-old traveling circus. The best Mexican actors are assembled for the third installment of a Mexican trilogy by Luis Estrada, EL INFIERNO (Hell), a powerful criticism and condemnation of the corruption that is rampant in Mexican mining companies, which is paving the way into the new millennium for this society. A film to be seen!

In the VOX POPULI section, four popular works refresh us. AMOR Y FRIJOLES (Love and beans) is the fifth film to have been directed in Honduras, a dynamic study of a couple in Central America, it invites us to admire the splendour of the Honduran landscape. TERESA, by Tatiana Gaviola, recalls the passionate and tormented destiny of Chilean poet, Teresa Wilms Montt (1893-1921). The first feature length film by Venezuelan director Efterpi Charalambidis, LIBERTADOR MORALES, EL JUSTICIERO, embraces popular Venezuelan tradition through an urban legend that denounces the plague of corruption. Lastly, from the Dominican Republic, TRÓPICO DE SANGRE, by Juan Delancer, tells the historical account lived by Minerva Miraball during the middle of the military dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Festivalissimo would like to thank the Consulate of the Republic of Honduras, Chile, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic for their assistance in putting together this module.

Special Presentation
In tribute to the Canadian premiere of LA VIDA DE LOS PECES (opening film), Festivalissimo is happy to honour filmmaker Matías Bize by presenting a retrospective comprised by two of his benchmark films: SÁBADO, UNA PELICULA EN TIEMPO REAL (Saturday, a Movie in Real-time) and EN LA CAMA (In Bed). Hailed by "Cahiers du cinéma" as proof of the rejuvenation of Chilean filmmaking, Sábado is the first feature length film by then, 23-year-old Matías Bize. EN LA CAMA, his second feature film, which was filmed entirely indoors, has been awarded numerous distinctions, including the prize for best film at the Festival of Valladolid.

Festivalissimo invites you to take a Latin break under the luminous glass roof of Place Alexis Nihon. During four consecutive days, from noontime until 2 p.m., we invite you to attend our free dance workshops with the best Latin dance schools of Montreal.

Presented in collaboration with; Loto-Quebec, TV5, the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, Heritage Canada, the Borough of Ville-Marie District, and the City of Montreal. Festivalissimo's 2011 festival in the Park "FIESTA LATINA" celebrates the closing ceremony for its 16th annual Film Festival, by returning with 3 fun-packed days and nights of quality programming for the whole family.

Located in Cabot Square, next to Atwater metro and in front of the Old Forum, the Fiesta Latina will transform this park into a veritable cultural odyssey. All free of charge to the public, the Fiesta features non-stop dancing and live music performances on the Loto-Quebec stage, as well as day long dance workshops that finish with a nightly dancing extravaganza accompanied by a live Orchestra. The public can catch their breath while they watch Latin short films in the TV5 cinema tent with lounge, or interact with more than a dozen cultural street actors that will animate the grounds. Traditional Ibero-Latin-American cuisine will tempt the palate of festivalgoer's as they enjoy the musical rhythms' of Tango on Friday, Salsa on Saturday, and a Flamenco splashed Sunday of dance for this spicy weekend of Latin culture. Help us build a new children's hospital by supporting their efforts at the fundraising kiosk, located in the kid's zone, we promise non-stop fun for the whole family.

The 16th edition of Festivalissimo will take place at the Cinéma Impérial, Centre Sandra et Leo Kolber, Salle Lucie et André Gagnon (1430 Bleury) and at NFB Cinema (1564 St-Denis). Tickets are on sale starting Tuesday, May 3rd at the NFB Cinema’s box-office during business hours or online at the following address: More information at 

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